Deandre Jordan talks about Nikola Jokic, his role with the Nuggets, and his pursuit of the championship

DeAndre Jordan listened to Jeff Green’s enlistment letter. Talk at length with Nuggets coach Michael Malone. He saw how formidable Denver can become when you’re healthy, and he wanted a piece of it.

League sources said that shortly after the free agency began, The Nuggets and Jordan agreed a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum salary. Entering his fifteenth season in the NBA, Jordan has no illusions about his role with the team. According to Jordan, Malone was honest and direct with him during several conversations.

“Okay, he told me I’d come and start with Nikola (Jokic),” Jordan stammered during a phone conversation with the Denver Post.

The 6-foot-11, former All-Star, Gold Medal and All-NBA Center winner, knows his days of trophies are behind him, but that doesn’t mean he can’t contribute to a team chasing a championship—one goal that has eluded him throughout his career.

Greene, who played with Jordan first on the Clippers and then on the Nets, sold him on the selfless environment in Denver and the benefits of playing alongside (or in Jordan’s case, behind) Nikola Jokic.

“Obviously everyone knows Nikola is the head of the snake, so obviously my role is to get off the bench, help our 2nd unit speed, screens and unlock players, get better shots of the players and also finish everything I can do in the transition, the rebounds offensively, controlling the glass for our unit, and also being a defensive presence throughout my time there.”

Does that mean he’s comfortable not playing every night if that’s what Malone decides?

His diplomatic answer – “That’s something we’ll get to when it comes to personnel” – revealed a veteran with knowledge of his whereabouts.

Jordan was recently a member of the 76ers, which followed a brief stint with the Lakers after back-to-back seasons with the nets. His production last season – 4.3 points, 5.5 rebounds – was a backup boost still fighting to carve out a place in the rotation. Nuggets, even at 34, views him as a rollator, screener, and defensive handicap. Malone, in particular, appreciates his extensive experience and voice.

“It’s just me as a player, as a person,” Jordan said when asked about speaking openly in the locker room. “Since I’ve been with the Clippers, back in my younger days, I’ve learned from some veterans to be a great presence in the locker room even if things haven’t gone my way. I’ve done that throughout my career, and I think that’s something I’m most proud of.”

No, the Nuggets are not trying to recreate the 2020-21 Brooklyn Nets, which included Jordan, green guard and versatile Bruce Brown. But familiarity with Jordan helps. Since Nuggets enables him to talk, he is supposed to already have a few well-established relationships within the organization.